The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) is an agency in the U.S. Department of the Interior responsible for managing development of the country’s offshore resources, such as oil and gas. In 2009, the U.S. Department of the Interior completed the process to grant leases for renewable energy development activities, such as offshore wind farms, as well as other forms of renewable energy, such as wave, current and solar.
The BOEM has stated it sees benefits to allowing offshore wind area leases to describe a range of designs as part of construction and operations plans, that is used in offshore wind project planning in Europe. The range of design process is called project design envelope (PDE). The BOEM has stated that the PDE approach “allows offshore wind project proponents to identify in their permit application a reasonable range of potential project design parameters for certain key components of a development, including: type and number of turbines; foundation type; location of the export cable route; location of an onshore substation; location of the grid connection point; and construction methods and timing.”
The PDE approach would allow BOEM to assess potential environmental impacts, with a focus on those design elements that present the greatest potential impact. The BOEM has also recognized that the offshore wind industry is moving at an accelerated pace and the current U.S. Administration is working to make the renewable energy development process quicker, cheaper and more competitive with the rest of the world.
In my opinion, the BOEM’s words are encouraging. Europe has twenty-six major offshore projects and Rhode Island completed America’s first offshore wind project in 2017. It is essential that the current and future government leaders work collaboratively together to expedite not only offshore wind energy, but all forms of reliable, sustainable, and cost-effective types of renewable energy.